Hooray for Hollywood.
Let's work up a treatment on this one -- my favorite scene during the pope's premier performance in movieland. It was Tuesday night in the ballroom of the Registry Hotel out at Universal Studios. All the celebs were there -- a dressed-to-kill fan club for the Holy Father, who was running a little late doing this TV gig with kids across the studio lot.
There were a few television monitors in the ballroom, but these people tend not to watch the tube unless they are on it, so they mingled in the aisles talking about the stock market, cars, horses, contracts and this media star, John Paul. But the applause from the televisions kept getting louder; it was obvious that something was happening. The stars shut up, sat down and watched.
Then an armless young man, Tony Melendez, a Nicaraguan who lives in Chino, appeared on TV and played the guitar with his bare feet. It was beautiful. What a time for him to show his stuff -- with a captive audience of world entertainers watching him on the monitors!
As soon as Melendez finished and the pope jumped off the stage to hug him, I raced from the ballroom to the bank of telephones in the hallway and call Washington to make sure we got this into the paper. I was caught in a mad scramble, but, as it turned out, not with other reporters. The guy on my left and the woman on my right were agents.
"Darla, find out who this kid is and how we can sign him up," the Hollywood agent yelled into the phone to someone who seemed to be his secretary. "We're talking Carson, Letterman, 'Today' show. With his bare feet, Darla! Look, we gotta hurry, this kid is hot."
You'll see Melendez again soon, no doubt.